TIME Family of Wines started the new year with some major recognition.
Sisters Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters have been chosen among Wine Industry Network’s (WIN) Most Inspiring People of 2021.
Christa-Lee is general manager and Darrien McWatters is operations manager at TIME Family of Wines. This award validates and proves that the McWatters sisters are celebrating the work first started by their father, the late Harry McWatters – the founding father of the B.C. wine industry.
“This award is really special because it comes from our peers in the wine industry,” said Christa-Lee. “It’s extremely humbling and we are feeling blessed.”
“Christa-Lee and Darrien McWatters manage to honour their family’s incredible history and legacy in Canadian wine, while fearlessly pushing their brands into the future,” said Kathleen Wilcox of Wine Industry Network.
As Wilcox explains, the sisters received this accolade for their ability to be adaptable and innovative, while paving the way for others.
“Darrien and Christa-Lee have remained steadfast in their leadership positions despite the evolution of the industry, their father’s death and the pandemic—all of which ultimately transformed what they saw as their—and the brand’s—trajectory,” according to a post from WIN.
Throughout the pandemic, the two worked to sell the winery to new owners Ron and Shelley Mayert as well as re-branded and added fresh new packaging. They didn’t stop there. They added a second location at the District Wine Village in Oliver last year and they purchased a vineyard near Osoyoos.
They are loving their satellite location in the wine village.
“Our fireplace just arrived and we are really looking forward to spring. What I love about the District Wine Village is the sense of community, with wineries supporting each other,” she said.
The WIN post adds, “change, for the McWatters, is a healthy and welcome part of life. Darrien’s journey, and her family’s reaction to her personal metamorphosis as she completed her gender transition in 2021, is a powerful demonstration of the reach and power of their commitment to carefully considered advancement.” Like her father, Darrien has been a true trailblazer and role model to those around her.
Harry McWatters founded the wine industry, opening the first winery in B.C. – Sumac Ridge Winery in Summerland, Okanagan. He passed away unexpectedly in 2019.
“I think dad would be really proud of us,” said Christa-Lee, choking back tears. Currently, Christa-Lee’s favourite wine is the 2017 McWatters Brut made in the traditional way.
“It was the last wine my dad blended,” she added. “It’s absolutely delicious.”
Known as trailblazers, the McWatters opened the first urban winery in the heart of downtown Penticton in 2018. The TIME winery is in a historic and revitalized movie theatre on Martin Street, and features garage doors that can open to the patio, allowing for an amazing space for concerts and dining.
“We have a lot of plans for 2022. We’ve renovated upstairs to allow for private tastings,” said Christa-Lee. “We’ve kept pivoting and like everyone we’ve struggled with the changing restrictions but rather than sitting still we keep looking at ways to move forward.
“Our culinary team and staff have been amazing through it all.”
TIME Family of Wines is the parent company to Chronos, Evolve Cellars and the McWatters Collection.
“Darrien and Christa-Lee take their prominent position as role models in the world of wine seriously, and both are keen to speak openly about the manner in which family, business, and the reality of modern life can overlap,” WIN concluded in the reasons why the sisters were chosen as most inspirational in 2021.